Breakfast Wedge

Egg prices (@) $7.37, Yet Are Still Cheaper than Other Proteins/YAHOO

At our house, a wedge salad shows up most often in the good ol’ summertime. One week there’s a run on BLTs and the next, wedge salads begin to appear at the side of grilled burgers or chops. There’s no good reason not have them come winter, but maybe it’s about tomatoes? I would, however, be the first person to tell you homegrown Colorado tomatoes are not so terribly wonderful even in high summer. So, no. They are not Illinois tomatoes, nor are they New Jersey tomatoes. They crack from overwatering or they wait for October snows only to be ushered into the house for a very sad and slow paper bag ripening. Sometimes they’re ready (or rotted) by Thanksgiving. That said, I’ve not a true complaint as I keep a large carton of Campari tomatoes on hand 52 weeks a year. Which is why, once in a happy while during January, a summer-ish wedge makes an appearance on our dinner table, much to my husband’s thrilled amazement and big-eyed wonder. (He’s a big wedge fan because #1 he loves blue cheese and #2 he loves bacon more. If there’s a wedge on a restaurant menu, he’ll order it. Almost always.) And when I was pondering all of this the other day, ready for our January splurge, I wondered why we couldn’t have a wedge for breakfast? I love eggs with any vegetables; you might remember. I mean, nearly everyone eats Huevos Rancheros with lettuce and tomato, don’t they? Some breakfast tacos come with shredded lettuce and tiny diced tomatoes, too. What about veggie benedicts? Our favorite breakfast place serves a ton of salads with fried eggs, or avocado toast, or omelets. And anyway, bacon — a main wedge ingredient — is for sure breakfast food. So why not a BREAKFAST WEDGE? A nice hunk of blue-cheesy lettuce and some lacy fried eggs. Really crisp bacon. I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. Maybe a side of UK grilled mushrooms and tomatoes?

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli Bean Bowl

If you’re like lots of other folks come January, you might be cutting back on this or that–maybe carbs, red meat, fat, sugar, or alcohol. Or did you make a commitment to increase your veggies? Sigh. Same here; I’m watching what’s going in with the hope of making up for the few extra pieces of bread and glasses of wine I enjoyed during the Mexican cruise. But there’s no need to suffer and every reason to adore the meals meant to increase health and decrease the waistline. This Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli Bean Bowl (how do I name these things?) is a new favorite at our house and because it’s made up of mostly pantry and colorful vegetable bin ingredients, it goes together pretty quickly and fills you up. While the Brussels sprouts and broccoli roast, there’s time to chop the rest of the vegetables and grab the last few ingredients that serve as a dressing. Garnishes of juicy cherry tomatoes and perky olives top the whole thing off and, while I didn’t think hard about it at first, this vegetable-heavy meal scores at the checkout, too at about $4 or less per serving (depending on how you make it or which sales you hit.) And if that’s not enough, you’re getting about 15 grams of protein in each 2-cup serving! Between the tender-crisp roasted sprouts and broccoli, the crunchy fresh vegetables, the creamy beans, the bright lemon, and the briny high notes, my bowl sings of balance, textural difference, and colorful vibrance. Since the ingredient list isn’t terribly short (chop, chop, chop), I offer a quicker option without a few of the fresh vegetables. (Perhaps as a side for a game day spread? Add feta for fun.) Many home cooks look at long ingredient lists and quickly move on, so I offer this option if that’s you. I keep any number of vegetables at one time because I like God’s own garden in my salads and a mixed variety of choices for dinner without making another grocery run. And, as a mostly retired person, I don’t mind lots of chopping. I know not everyone is like that. Ti piace, as my choral conducting professor at University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) used to say. You like it! Do as you please. Make it just the way you want it. (Or, as we Americans might say, “do it your way.”) Ti piace always sounded better!

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Quarter-Sheet Pan Pork Chop Dinner for Two (with Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes)

Sheet pan dinners are easy clean-ups.

TOP TEN POSTS OF 2022: #1 Barely Lemon Shortbread. #2 Summer Vegetable Tart. #3 Greek Salmon Pasta Salad. #4 Apple-Cheddar Corn Muffins #5 Double (GF) or Triple Chocolate Cheesecake #6 Mushroom and Leek Lentil-Chickpea Soup #7 KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake #8 Pizza Egg Bake #9 Tuscan Chicken Stew (Revisited) #10 Ham and Broccoli Quiche (Cleaning Out the Christmas Kitchen) As we begin a new year of blogging, my most loving thanks goes to the sous chef of my life, my husband Dave, who shops for me; chops for me; grills for me; keeps me laughing, and shares my table nightly. He’s always been my best taste-tester and for that, I’m infinitely grateful.

The greatest number of people read the now 14-year blog on March 10, 2020, though the post was published two days before that: FRIDAY FISH: Oyster Po’ Boy with Horseradish Blue Cheese Sauce.

In December, I promised you I’d have a few more Quarter-Sheet Pan Dinners and, right on time a month later, here’s the next! If you’re like me, you’re ready to put the holidays in the rear view window and have something different to eat after those big meals and all of those leftovers. (Do you have cookies in the freezer?! I do. Ok; we’re good. And you’ll guess our tree is up until Epiphany.) This week’s quarter-sheet pan meal features a simply seasoned pair of thick, bone-in pork chops paired with some fresh beans, thyme, red onions and thinly sliced sweet potato. A fast searing of the chops on the stovetop and the whole shebang slides into the oven for all of 20 minutes while you pour the wine, chat with a friend, or watch a little bit of the new, fab PBS News Hour. (I’m going to miss Judy Woodruff so!) With hardly any work — isn’t that what the oven’s for?–you have a gorgeous, real-deal dinner quick like a bunny. And, wink-wink, this doesn’t feed 4, 6, or 8; it makes just a couple of servings. Exactly what you or someone you know needed.

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Dave’s Date Bars

Fancy these up by making a date bar sundae. Top with ice cream, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and cinnamon!

For veteran December cookie bakers (I’m not using the word old here), there are always those few special recipes that make it into the oven lineup every year. They’re one of the kid’s or neighbor’s favorites or maybe it’s the cookie that always disappears most quickly out of the tin on the counter. If nothing else gets baked the whole month, we’re stirring up these particular goodies.

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Peasy-Easy Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Get that slow cooker out of the cupboard and try this soup!

Of course it’s holiday time. And while we’re busy with festivities, trying to get cookies baked, attempting to find or wrap gifts, spreading words of good cheer, going to concerts, figuring out if we’re naughty or nice (I know what I am) and maybe even decorating the house, we still have to eat. Magazines, newspapers, tv shows, and social media feeds are full of cheeseballs topped with red and green peppers, hard-looking painted sugar cookies (not my style), and awesome instructions for making the perfect Christmas day roast beef, should you be able to afford one. But right now we’re still wondering, “What’s for dinner?” If you’re anything like me, you feel like a very rich woman indeed when a slow cooker is bubbling away all day in the kitchen promising dinner minus the 5pm shuffle to the fridge and the eye-roll glance into the pantry to see what you can come up with. Dinner’s a done deal. You could have skied or shopped all day because come 6 o’clock, there’s nothing left to do but grab a bowl, get a spoon, and pour the wine. And if you love spit pea soup, but never make it, my simple version’s the one for you. There’s a tish of prep before you dump — an unfortunate cooking expression if ever there was one — everything in the pot and push the start button, but I promise it’s not much and offers greatly increased taste. So don’t skip it, ok?

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Quarter-Sheet Pan Salmon Dinner for 2

…or for one with leftovers

Sheet pan dinners have been having a moment– for a quite a while. Even established cooks are hooked on quickly oiling and seasoning meat and vegetables so they can have the thrill of sliding what is actually a half sheet pan (more on that in a minute) into the oven for an ultra easy dinner. Instead of watching and stirring pots on the stovetop, they can text a friend, read a novel, order from amazon, chat up the cat, read Alyce’s blog, sip a glass of wine, or even set the table. Today’s recipe, however, is made on a quarter sheet pan. Just perfect for cooking for one or two or for heating up a very few things. Especially at holiday time when, well, time is of the essence. (Roll eyes upward thinking of the to-do list. Is your tree up? What cookies are you baking? Gifts ordered? Clothes at cleaners? ) And I adore quarter sheet pans, which I first heard about from the fine food writer David Lebovitz. Once David said to get one, I got two. And do they fit in the dishwasher perfectly? Yes. Love that. If it doesn’t go in the dishwasher, I’m thinking twice about keeping it.

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Double (GF) or Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Looking for Thanksgiving? Try my THANKSGIVING, AN INTIMATE VIEW (Redux) or click “Thanksgiving” in the subject cloud for more info than you really wanted.

There really is a song, “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake,” and somewhere in my stacks, I even have the music for it. This chocolate cheesecake, which can be made gluten-free (Double Chocolate with a nut crust) or not (Triple Chocolate with a chocolate wafer cookie crust), is without a doubt the cake you’d bake were someone ultra-special about to knock on your door. The wonderful original recipe by well-known baker and writer Abigail Johnson Dodge (author of the fun new book SHEET CAKE) is one I found in FINE COOKING magazine — or on its website–a number of years ago. (The famous site is no longer available, more’s the pity, though another site does have the recipe. See TIPS below.) I’d make it for one person’s birthday and someone else would say, “Can I have that cake for my birthday?!” Or I’d carry it to a dinner party only for the host to pull me to the side and whisper in my ear, “I’d really love that recipe!” It’s just that kind of cake. Everyone craves it, especially chocolate lovers. Even fine fruit folk (my apple and cherry pie people) have been known to ask for an extra slice to take home.

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Chicken-Mushroom Bolognese

Looking for Thanksgiving? Try my THANKSGIVING, AN INTIMATE VIEW (Redux) or type Thanksgiving into the search box for more info than you needed.

Over the years, I’ve made Bolognese sauce almost exactly like the world famous Marcella Hazan’s recipe or just as Tyler Florence or Aida Mollenkamp thought it should be done and it’s always lovely any of those ways. Aida’s version (scroll down for info) is the one I’ve used for my lasagna for many moons and there’s nothing, nothing, nothing like it. (That recipe, more’s the pity, is no longer on the internet to my knowledge. Sad. Print your favorites, friends!) Even my sister, who doesn’t particularly like to cook, has made it. This time, I simply went ahead and fixed it just as I wanted to.  Which meant a little more tomato than Tyler and a lot more tomato than Marcella and, the biggie–I made it, ye gods and little fishes, with chicken, mushrooms, and bacon instead of with Aida’s (and many other cook’s) veal. Bolognese, the real deal, has just a little tomato and no herbs at all save parsley; it’s meat sauce with milk (I know–but you won’t taste it) and is served with a little sauce and a ton of pasta.  Like 1 cup of sauce to 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pounds of pasta.  Nothing like Americans are used to.  Perhaps because we eat pasta as a main dish. Italians use pasta as a first course -primo–served between the antipasto and the secondo, which is a meat or fish dish or our main dish/entrée.  I like it sort of in between, but I do want a little more sauce and meat to the meal because I like it that way. Period. And this time? I wanted lot and lots of chicken. Chicken? Why chicken?

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Apple-Cheddar Corn Muffins

Looking for a few bakers away from altitude (I’m at 6,800 ft.) to test drive this recipe and let me know how it did by commenting at the bottom of the post. Altitude bakers are welcome, too, of course–but I mostly need folks at sea level or not too far above. American east or west coasts, south, midwest –all fine. Countries abroad at sea level, you know who you are. Thanks!!

My mom, born and raised near McComb, Mississippi, was the cornbread maker in our family. Black as coal on the outside and yellow like salty sunshine on the inside, her no-recipe cornbread — hot or cold — gave shape to our days. The cast iron pan graced the table at a tomatoes and green beans summer suppertime and then you could sneak into the kitchen of a morning and cut yourself a little piece for breakfast to keep from getting coffee tummy. If you were lucky, there might be an afternoon snack of cornbread topped with sour cream and honey. (And if there wasn’t cornbread, you’d do the same with biscuits.) In the evening, my dad would crumble a big slice into a glass and then fill the glass with buttermilk, eating the whole kit and caboodle with a big spoon.

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